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At funeral, a message of hope over hate

CLOQUET -- Pastor Paul Hadland told mourners Monday he had no answers to why the lives of April Jean Oles-Magdzas, her daughter Lila Jean Magdzas and unborn daughter Annah Helen-Mae Magdzas were taken last week.

"There are no answers to the tears that don't stop coming," he told hundreds of people gathered at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Cloquet.

Matthew Magdzas, 23, is believed to have shot his wife, April, 26; daughter, Lila, 13 months; and three dogs on Aug. 17 before turning the gun on himself at their Superior home. April was pregnant and scheduled to give birth by Caesarean section last Wednesday.

Hadland talked about April's life -- she was born in Cloquet, graduated from Carlton High School and earned a degree in art therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in May. He said she had worked with people who had traumatic brain injuries. He said she loved being a mom to Lila, was excited about becoming a mom to Annah and that she loved cheerleading and was looking forward to her new job as a cheerleading coach at Duluth East.

"I suspect that is how she lived her life -- as a cheerleader," he said.

Hadland spoke specifically of April cheering on her younger brother, Ben, and her daughter, Lila.

"She would cheer us on today," he said. "She would encourage us to forgive Matthew and let go."

Hadland said it was necessary to do so in order for those left behind to again "live in hope."

He said that while people will feel cheated by not having April, Lila and Annah in their lives, not forgiving would only bring more hate and anger.

"We already have too much of it," he said.

He encouraged people to choose faith, hope and love because April, Lila and Annah "now dance in the light of Jesus, which brings joy."

Amy Jensen, one of April's closest friends, sang the song, "One Sweet Day," during which many people silently wiped away tears. No one from the family spoke during the service and most in the church were silent as the family walked out after everyone sang "Amazing Grace" as the final hymn.

Family and friends remained somber afterward, looking at photos of April and Lila. Some commented that it was a beautiful service. One said they thought the family was holding up well. Another added that the deaths probably hadn't hit them yet.

"Just senseless," added another.

One woman said she liked what Hadland said about forgiveness.

"Like he said, you can hate, but where does that get you?" she said.

A page on Facebook dedicated to the memory of April, Lila and Annah has hundreds of members and comments about April and her daughters.

"Find comfort knowing that April and her girls will be together forever," wrote Jenna Stark.

Friend Tessa Buscko commented, "April and Lila looked so beautiful......April and the girls you will truly be missed but will never be forgotten ..."

Visitation for Matthew Magdzas is from 10 a.m. to noon today (Tuesday) with a mass of Christian burial immediately following at Cathedral of Christ the King Catholic Church in Superior.